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SALT LAKE CITY — It isn’t Christmas that I love as much as I love the month of December.
I love Christmas music and Christmas trees. I love holiday baking and Christmas cards in the mail. I love Christmas ornaments and live Nativity scenes. I love holiday parties and a well-done Santa Claus. I love Christmas books and the Christmas garland on my stairs.
I love the feeling in the air this time of year. I love the doorbell ditches that include presents and treats. I love the sounds of the bell-ringers asking for loose change. I love to witness goodness and kindness instead of only reading about it.
I love that the world feels different in December.
But, there are a few things that make me not love December.
I dislike all the reasons I'm supposed to have why Santa shouldn't be part of our holiday season, and I dislike all the reasons my children shouldn't ask for a particular gift. And if you can believe the irony, lately, I dislike articles about Christmas.
Christmas articles used to mean wonderful recollections of secret acts of service, fond Christmas memories and favorite Christmas traditions. I doubt the generations of parents before us ever read (or wrote) articles about less Santa, canceling Christmas, or labeling the gifts their children received.
I grew up in a wonderful, memory-inducing Christian home. Christmases were magical. Christmas morning found presents and candy in abundance. Santa was generous. Grandparents were generous. We received very little "wants" throughout the year and so Christmas (and birthdays) were done well.
I always knew there were families less fortunate than my own, and it wasn’t lost on me that Santa wasn’t as generous to everyone else as he was to me. Although, I’ll admit I was well into my teenage years before I learned that Sub for Santa programs existed.
But I still knew Christmas wasn’t all about me and my list to Santa. I’m sure in 1984 as a 10-year-old child I had written a decent length letter to the Man in Red during the weeks when the “Do They Know It’s Christmas” song became popular. I remember well the emotions I felt as music artists sang out about starving children in Africa and I recall distinctly the Saturday trip to the record store with my dad to buy the soundtrack. Thus doing our little part toward raising money for famine aid.
I have participated in Sub for Santa programs over the years. I have fond memories of a stranger family opening up Christmas packages and seeing children, for what I am quite certain, was their first time receiving new clothes. I've seen a mother receive some Christmas wishes for her two children to enjoy on Christmas morning, and I've helped fill a shopping cart with toys for a family other than my own.
But I still love Santa.
I love that once a year (OK, twice if you count birthdays), it’s OK to make a (short) list of wants and desires and count on someone else to fulfill it.
It isn’t about entitlement or selfishness. It’s about giving and receiving. It’s about asking and fulfilling. It’s about anticipation and surprise. It’s about magic and wonder. It’s about happiness and joy.
Each year, Santa comes to our home and I believe he always will. He isn't as generous to my children as he was to me, but that has more to do with my uptightness over having too much "stuff" in our house than it does with anything else.
I respect everyone’s right to do Christmas in their own way. I also understand the entitlement that plagues today’s generation of children in contrast to those of the past. Yet, I do not understand the overabundance of articles that seem to want to dispel Santa’s magic, or gift-giving altogether.
Santa’s gifts at our house will be a mixture of needs and wants, heavier on the wants.There will be no set patterns, themes or labels among the gifts, and Christmas will most certainly not be canceled.
This summer, my younger children were introduced to entrepreneurship when they began selling handfuls of candy to the neighbor children, from a candy vending machine that sits in our garage. Every few weeks they’ve seen the quarters counted and distributed evenly among the three youngest, and then had subsequent lessons about savings, spending and charitable giving.
On Christmas morning, as my children sit among newly opened packages, we will likely remind them of what they did with their latest round of quarter earnings. The quarters will already have been donated to a local charity to use to clothe and shoe children less-fortunate than them.
The money my children have donated is minimal. It is minimal in comparison to what they will receive, but in my little corner of the world, my children will be among the children, and I will be among the parents, like the generations before us, doing our best to learn, experience and enjoy both giving and receiving.
Tiffany and her husband Mike are the parents of five children; 5-15. Tiffany loves the laundry five children generate, but could do without the sticky floors and dirty dishes. Tiffany blogs at www.ourmostofthetimehappyfamily.blogspot.com.